"From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised." Psalm 113:3

Friday, August 12, 2011

Firefly Friday. The Great Summer Camp Experiment.

We've gone back into a school routine, now, but a few weeks ago we were looking for something to break up the big expanses of the summer days. Crazy, I know.

We had done (more than) our share of soccer camps, short half-day camps held at our familiar soccer fields and filled with lots and lots of running, kicking, physical activity.

Then I discovered this great summer camp opportunity. It was a full day based out at a Girl Scout campground. It offered lots of swimming, hiking, canoeing, arts and crafts, archery, etc. All the different "real camp" things that I remembered doing when I was a kid.

Wow! What better way than that for Firefly to spend her day? She would get to be outside, get to be running, physical, climbing, discovering! Sounded just right up her alley, right? A perfect fit and a magical way to spend eight hours.

So I signed both girls up. And I even looked for some fun things for Bug and I to do together in our "found" time. We talked up camp. The girls looked it up online and were super-excited. I packed lunches, bathing suits, goggles, bug spray, and lots and lots of sunscreen.
And off they went on Day One.

And Firefly hated it.

The kids were mean.
It was too long.
She was really hungry.
She had to wear socks and sneakers.
They didn't get to __________ (each day a new complaint here).
And worst of all, there was thunder.

Look. I know that I am a control freak. (And, yes, I know my friends are rolling on the floor laughing here at the understatement that I just made). That is probably the biggest reason that I struggle so hard with Firefly, truthfully. But I am at a loss here. I can control how much and what kinds of food I pack her. I can control which clothes she has to wear. I can control earplugs when sounds are too loud, sunglasses when the sun is too bright, a relaxing bath when the world is just too tough.

But I can't control thunder.

And just so you know, we live in Florida. Thunderstorms are an everyday occurence during the summer months. Everyday. Firefly has had plenty of experience with thunder. But when she heard it at camp, she lost it. Truly lost it. Sobbing, out-of-control, lost it. Refused to budge, do anything at all, lost it.

Alienated herself from possible friends, embarrassed her older sister, annoyed counselors kind of lost it.


Some days, I'm at a loss myself, ladies and gentlemen.
And it strikes me yet again that I have a special needs kiddo.
And one that I truly do not understand.

This wonderful, magical, nature-y (yes, I know that's not a word), picture-perfect childhood memory camp experience that I thought I had organized for my girls turned into a torture session.

And guess what?
Mom of the year that I am, I made her go three more times!

Denial is a wonderful thing, sometimes.

We role-played the thunder thing.
We practiced deep breathing.
We gave suggestions for things to tell herself when she *thought there might be thunder coming in the next two hours*.
I equipped Turtle with some "in the moment" suggestions.
I talked to the camp director.
I offered my phone number over and over again.

Every day, guess what?
It thundered.
She flipped out.

Major letdown.
I guess I have learned my lesson about summer camp for next year.
I'm still struggling with why, though. Which part of this was so wrong when it seemed like it would be so right?
Will I one day understand?
Why am I trying so hard to understand when what I need to do is parent?
Is there a difference?

Arrgh. Here we go with all of the questioning again. And, I guess, back to the answer. We are all wonderfully made. God knows what He is doing. I can do all things through He who gives me strength. God knows what He is doing.
If only I did!

But I do know one thing. I'm thankful that during the school year there are no summer camps.


  1. Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference between the complaining about something that is real, and the complaining just to get attention for something else, though. I can never tell whether I should give in to things like this (letting her quit because she's afraid of the thunder) or whether I should help her (and make her) stick it out. Parenting is hard. ;-) Sounds like you dealt with it well, though!

  2. Oh my goodness I was literally laughing like a nut after reading your post because I too have been there with our "special little girl". Just when you think you have everything all planned out and nothing could ever possibly go wrong, something DOES happen and I have found that once our daughter goes over the mountain top as we like to say around here, there is no going back! It's hard, it is frustrating and at times we just don't have the answers. But God does and He knows what He is doing, even when we just can't see it. I'm sorry she didn't enjoy it. Hopefully there will be something else she WILL want to go to and experience. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Thank you both for the kind comments. I agree, it's so hard to tell the best way to deal with some of this stuff. As Firefly gets older, I wonder about the manipulating, but then again, sometimes she just seems so terrified and / or out of control that it's hard to believe it could be anything but real. Maybe someday . . .

  4. I think you were right on to try for a few more days b/c w/ special kids like ours new things can be tough and it was worth trying... And, I smiled when i read your comment above about wondering if she's manipulating things. Our son is quite the manipulator. His sister is getting worse than him though,. She has no SPD issues and yet will tantrum/cry, screaming, "I can't calm down. No one can help me. I can't calm down." She's modeling after her brother who, in the past, really could not calm himself. She is seeking attention - big time! Ah, the adventures of parenting.



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